It’s not often you see a room full of teenagers held in rapt attention while someone gives a history lesson, but sitting in the Dr. Eells Underground Railroad Home, Board Member Dave Oakley painted a compelling picture for the visiting students from the Quincy Teen REACH program.
In 1842, Quincy had only been incorporated as a city for two years. Missouri was nearly the wild-western frontier of major settlements in the US. A strong tension had already gripped the nation and would eventually boil over into Civil War in the years that followed. Nowhere was this tension more palpable than in Quincy, a major river hub at the time, which sat at the border of the slave state of Missouri and the free state of Illinois.
One hot summer night that August, an enslaved man from Monticello, Missouri known only by his first name, Charley, stepped onto the Missouri side of the Mississippi shoreline and began crossing to get to Illinois.